Published: April 26, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Nye & Company
BLOOMFIELD, N.J. – Nearly 500 lots trooped across Nye & Company’s block in the firm’s April 13 Estate Treasures Auction, a sale that saw robust bidding that combined for a total of about $415,000. Traditional art and antiques went head to head with modern and contemporary works, suggesting that both markets are thriving.
Andrew Holter, Nye & Company’s director of business development, said he was pleasantly surprised at the number of private collectors bidding and that they are seeing prices reminiscent of “the good ‘ole days. All signs are pointing to some positive strength in the traditional decorative arts market.”
The top lot of the event at $41,600 was a set of 12 Rococo elaborately carved walnut side chairs, possibly German and mid-Eighteenth Century, that handily left its $3/5,000 estimate in the proverbial dust and sold to an online trade buyer from the United Kingdom. The large size of the set and the voluptuous carving all contributed to the interest in the chairs, but John Nye said, “A lot of people expressed interest…but kept their cards close to the vest, meaning we didn’t have a sense they would sell for so much.”
The chairs were once in the collection of the American conservationist Esmond Bradley Martin, the great-grandson of steel magnate Henry Phipps. When the set passed through Sotheby’s New York in 2002, the sale catalog determined the carving to be “purely Continental in conception and execution,” with a comparable example at Giseln House in Dresden and others illustrated in Beard and Gilbert, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840 and Chippendale’s Director.
The other lots of traditional antique furniture, hailing from myriad countries of origin and date, that saw interest included a Chippendale fretwork mahogany china table that was cataloged as Eighteenth Century and either of English or possibly Virginia that topped off at $11,070. The table relates to examples at the Philadelphia Museum, Colonial Williamsburg and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the US State Department. According to Holter, the table was the “battled over fiercely by two private [collectors].”
Of similar vintage, a set of five New York City carved mahogany side chairs had extensive provenance that included Cornelia Haring Jones (1741-1821) and Samuel Jones (1734-1819), of New York City and Oyster Bay, N.Y. What had originally been a set of six chairs then descended in the family of their son, Major William Jones (1768-1853) of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. At some point, the chairs were acquired by American furniture dealer Israel Sack of New York City, who sold the chairs to a Scarsdale, N.Y., couple, Virginia and Leonard Marx. One chair from the set was given to the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn., in 2021. A private collector from the Midwest, new to Nye, paid $5,535 for the set.
A pair of early Nineteenth Century Neoclassical mahogany swivel-top tables, attributed to Isaac Vose and Son of Boston from a New Jersey collection spun past the $1,5/2,500 estimate to finish at $10,455.
English furniture buyers snapped up a George III mahogany flip top games table for $3,383 and a George III inlaid mahogany secretary desk for $3,075. The same price of $2,768 was achieved by a pair of George II-style mahogany leather armchairs and a William IV mahogany breakfront wardrobe.
Twentieth Century furniture was led at $4,920 by an oak dining table made by Stickley; it would go nicely with a set of eight Stickley dining chairs that finished at $3,383.
The first lot of the day – a Nineteenth Century Tiffany sterling silver pitcher with chased foliate decoration – set a positive tone for the day, topping off at $6,765 against a $2,5/3,000 estimate. Other decorative arts with strong results include a Chinese export porcelain five-piece garniture set in the Mandarin pattern that dated to the early Eighteenth Century at $7,380. A wrought iron floor lamp by Samuel Yellin that had descended in the family of Yellin’s foreman lit up to $3,075, the same price achieved for a Swiss cylinder music box.
Traveling well beyond its $3/5,000 estimate, a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk came from an East Hampton, N.Y., private collection and sailed to $14,760, the second highest price of the day. Holter said it garnered “tremendous enthusiasm from both private [collectors] and trade on both sides of the Atlantic but ultimately sold to a private collector with residences on the West Coast and Europe.
Also, significantly exceeding expectations was a Continental Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century oil on board painting of the Madonna and child with a cherub that bidders pushed to $7,995, more than ten times its high estimate.
An Italian Eighteenth Century oil on canvas of Lavinia Holding a Tray of Fruit, after Titian, measured 39½ by 33½ inches and sold just above the high estimate, for $3,383.
Marble statues were in fairly short supply, with just two examples that sold within an increment or two of each other. The first to cross the block was a 39-inch-tall Italian School figure of Hebe that dated to the Nineteenth or Twentieth Century. Estimated at $2/3,000, it went out at $3,383. For $3,075, a 30½-inch-tall model of “Venus Holding an Apple” found a new home. It was modeled after Bertel Thorvaldsen’s (Danish, 1768-1844) statue but likely carved in the Twentieth Century.
Nye has had notable success recently with Keith Haring’s subway drawings which, as often happens, leads to consignments of similar works. Such was the case with two subway chalk drawings, which were consigned by a private New York collector who removed them from the subway in the early 1980s when he was an art student. The first to cross the block was “Mother and Child,” which had tears and losses and measured 44¾ by 30 inches; it brought $14,760, while “Best Buddies,” of similar size and condition, made $12,300. The same buyer – a private collector on the West Coast – acquired both.
An oil on canvas painting of a leopard by William Skilling (American, b 1940) topped expectations at $13,530, just outpacing an oil on canvas of yellow flowers by Twentieth Century French artist Bernard Cathelin, that blossomed to $12,300.
Other contemporary fine art highlights included Jane Piper’s oil on canvas of fruit on a table that brought $2,768, Marc Chagall’s “Le Tour Eiffel Verte” lithograph that was snapped up for $1,476, and a Czeslaw Zuber art glass sculpture of a face, which doubled expectations to bring $1,169.
Nye & Company will have a Chic and Antiques estate treasures sale May 25-26.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For information, 973-984-6900 or www.nyeandcompany.com.
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